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*given us of the creation and fall of man, as
the best he could collect from tradition. You • add, in my opinion there are also many marks
of its being a very lame account, and far from solving the difficulty which it seems • intended to answer, namely, the introduction
of death and calamity into the world. The * prophets and apostles,' Dr. Horne continues to remark, 'certainly do not inform 'us, at every turn, that they have received • from God that information which they are about to communicate to us : but we are assured, 2 Pet. i. 21. that holy men • Spake of old as they were moved by the holy ' ghost ; and 2 Tim, iii. 16. that all scripture
is given by inspiration of God.'
S SECTION What is the just idea of the inspiration of the
sacred writers. The certain ground upon which we go in this way of considering it ; and its advantages. Dr. Horne's great error with respect to the particular inspiration of the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews.
As the kind and degree of divine influence, or inspiration, under which the fa
cred writers composed their respective books, is the hinge on which this accusation turns, I shall endeavour to lay before you
such an account of the matter, as may be of some assistance to form your own. judgments upon it, before I consider the
particular allegations, which you are supposed to bring against Dr. Priestley.
The facred writers of the New Testament, (and what is said of them is applicable, cæteris paribus, to the writers of the Old Testament,) had not the matter they treat of, nor the words, dictated in a supernatural manner to them, by which they were to express themselves, in penning down their respective hisories of the gospel of Christ; but were left to collect facts from their
proper fources, and to tell them in their own way.
Thus St. Luke, in the preface to his gospel, desires that his account of things may be received by the friend to whom he addresses it, as worthy of credit, for his diligence in gathering it from those who had been eye-witnesses, and ministers of the word. If he had believed that inspiration had been necessary to give credit to his narrative, he would not have failed to have mentioned,
that he had his knowlege and information immediately from God.
The same may be said of all the evangelists, with respect to the different subjects which they record. And had it occurred to them, as it did to Luke, to take notice of this circumstance; they would have told us, that they had been careful to put down with fidelity and exactness, what they had seen and heard themselves, respecting their divine master Jesus, as also what they had learned from other competent witnesses.
The four evangelists therefore, after having acquainted themselves, in the best manner they could, with the life, miracles, and discourses of Christ, compiled their several gospels, in the form we now have them ; with great judgment confining themselves intirely to the representation of facts, without mixing their own opinions, or descanting upon them.
This has been, and I believe is, the sentiment of judicious christians, on this nice subject : whilst others have pleaded for what they call, a plenary inspiration of the facred writers ; i. e. that both in the things re
lated, and the language in which they con-
In the preface to his harmony of the four
• as it fcems to have been the plan of divine providence, never to furnish miracles, where natural causes were sufficient to procure the desired effect;” such a prodigious divine apparatus of a particular inspiration of each sacred writer was wholly unnecessary in the present case, as all the great ends of the gospel, and its credibility, are satisfactorily secured by the testimony of men of the most unquestionable integrity, who were about our Saviour's person, or of others who conversed with them ; who drew up different relations of the fame facts concerning him, disagreeing only in such mi
nute particulars as might be expected from men who wrote without communication with each other, and such as serves to corroborate and confirm their general and agreeing testimony to every thing of importance.
And he remarks in the same way, that since providence has thought proper to intrust this valuable deposit of the scriptures in human hands, to the fidelity of uninspired transcribers and printers for near 1800 years, it cannot be thought inconsistent with the same plan, to have it conveyed to us in a similar manner from the beginning: the apostles being naturally as capable of relating and writing an account of what they heard and saw, as other persons would be to copy the account after them.'
. In Section xi. of Observations prefixed to his · Harmony of the evangelists,” Dr. Priestley has suggested a probable account, how these sacred writers might be possessed of an exact knowlege of the things related by them, though their narrative of them was drawn
ир several years after the events themselves; and be qualified to compose their histories, such as we now have them.